This zucchini carbonara is going to completely blow your mind! We are combining rich flavors like crispy bacon, fresh parmesan, and rich heavy cream with zucchini noodles to hit all the flavors you would expect from a carbonara without all the carbs. Perfect for lunch or dinner, this zoodle carbonara recipe is easier to pull together than you think, ready in under 30-minutes, and definitley a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Like so many of the recipes here on Whole Lotta Yum, the zucchini carbonara one was inspired by a family favorite. I can vividly remember my aunt serving her fettuccini carbonara when we would visit with her. The rich combination of thick pasta noodles with the creamy cheese sauce was always a wonderful sight to my eyes and delight to my tastebuds.
As an adult though, grains are no longer my friend. Yet, the fondness of this meal never left me.
So I did what any food blogger would do - I set out to improvise. To create a low-carb carbonara recipe of a comforting dish that would hit all of the same flavor elements I was used to while taking into consideration our dietary restrictions and personal easing preferences.
The result? A warm and creamy keto pasta carbonara that recreates the dish from my childhood and doesn't leave me feeling like I am eating anything other than the original.
Why You'll Love This!
- This keto carbonara cooks up in less than 30 minutes as a one pan meal.
- It's super easy to customize your zucchini carbonara! Make a keto chicken carbonara or opt for ham instead of the bacon.
- Using zoodles in place of noodles is a great way to turn traditional pasta dishes low-carb perfect.
- We are making it easty to stay compliant with your low-carb, keto, and gluten-free lifestyle with our keto carbonara with zoodles.
- Rich heavy cream and fresh parmesan cheese are a great way to get the extra fat your body needs.
The zoodles carbonara sauce will make or break this dish! Make sure you are using fresh heavy whipping cream (this is no time for a light cream), quality shredded romano (or parmesan), and real butter. For your zoodles, we highly recommend using fresh zucchini noodles.
- olive oil
- Heavy whipping cream
- shredded romano parmesan cheese
- butter - cut into pieces
- ground pepper
- minced garlic cloves
- chopped fresh parsley
- zucchini noodles - spiralized
- If you're concerned about the partially cooked eggs, you can omit it and just serve this with creamy alfredo sauce.
- Include additional protein by including either chicken, shrimp, or ham.
- Try with pancetta (easily found at your deli counter) instead of bacon.
Step by Step Instructions
Your keto carbonara is going to come together quickly, so be sure to prep your ingredients before you start warming your pan. You'll be spiralizing the zucchini, cooking the zoodles, and add the cheese sauce. Easy peasy!
Spiralize the zucchini or buy zoodles ready to go from the grocery store. Remember, if you are using frozen to have them thawed completely and drain as much of the excess liquid as you can.
Fry the bacon until crisp, crumble into small pieces and set aside, keeping warm. And yes, for this recipe, I do recommend frying the bacon rather than cooking it in the oven.
In a bowl, beat the shredded cheese, heavy cream, butter, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Heat the sauce over medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer, stirring periodically, and then turn it to low. You'll want to start cooking the zoodles in another pan while you wait for the sauce to slowly heat.
Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
If you are using a nonstick skillet, you can reduce the olive oil to 1 tablespoon.
Cook your zucchini noodles in the pan for 4-5 minutes stirring frequently.
Cooking for 4-minutes will make an “al Dente” zucchini noodles that are still slightly crisp and is bright in a green shade. Cooking for 5-minutes will make a softer zucchini noodle and the green zucchini color starts to fade. Both options taste delicious, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Drain the zoodles and put them back into the warm pan and turn off the heat.
***NOTE: Zucchini is about 90% water and without draining, makes for a pretty runny sauce once your actual sauce gets added later on.
Give the cheese sauce another stir and take it off the heat. Slowly stir in a whisked egg and then add the cheese sauce mixture while the zoodles are still hot.
The hot sauce partially cooks the eggs, you don't want to add the eggs earlier than this since it can turn your smooth whisked egg into scrambled egg.
Top your zucchini carbonara with the crumbled bacon, more parmesan cheese, and even a bit of parsley. Serve on warm plates or in a warm serving bowl.
- Because we used zoodles instead of pasta, the sauce won't be as thick compared to the traditional version since the starch in pasta breaks down when it's hot and helps thicken the sauce--and zucchini doesn't have starch. Zoodles are also very wet, so draining the zoodles is super important--the goal here is to have the low carb carbonara sauce turn out creamy and not watery.
- Prep all of the ingredients beforehand since this recipe comes together quickly.
- Make a double batch and save half for lunches during the week.
Carbonara sauce is a traditional Italian sauce that often includes hard cheese, like Romano and/or parmesan, eggs, pork, like pancetta, and pepper that is typically served over spaghetti. Over the years it had changed to include cream making the sauce velvety and rich, and often you will see bacon used in place of the pancetta. Pasta variations have also been introduced including almost every variety. With the introduction of zoodles and other vegetable noodles, you will often see it served as part of a low carb lifestyle.
While it is similar to alfredo sauce, they aren't exactly the same.
Part of the velvety richness of carbonara sauce comes from the eggs that get whisked into the cheese sauce off of the stove and then mixed with hot zoodles (or traditionally, pasta). But does that make the egg raw?
Technically, no, as the eggs are partially cooked with this method. However, if you have concerns or don't want to serve semi-cooked eggs to your kids or others, feel free to swap the sauce with our easy keto alfredo, which is basically the same sauce but without egg.
More Keto "Pasta" and Sauce Recipes
Looking for more keto pasta recipes?
- Keto Alfredo Sauce
- Homemade Pesto Sauce
- Keto Chicken Noodle Soup
- Shrimp Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
- Cheddar Cheese Sauce